Friday, October 08, 2004

Southern Gospel Queen

Ever since I was a kid listening to the Florida Boys sanctify the Independence County Fair's dusty midway, I've been fascinated by Southern Gospel music. Southern Gospel (SG) is as easy to recognize and as difficult to pin down as Southern food--you know it when you see it, but exactly what makes it unique can be hard to say. Generally, SG is religious music that combines Christian faith messages with bluegrass or country style, humor, fun hair and clothes, and lots of drama. SG fans can be pretty intense, almost Phishhead-like in their devotion to their favorite groups.

I'm especially fond of SG family groups, like the McKamey's and the Crabb Family. But single acts like Nancy Harmon (actually she does have The Love Special Singers backing her up) are great, too. I watch them all and then some on Saturday nights from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the Phipps Gospel Sing (tells you something about our social life).

Lately I have a new favorite SG star. His name is Kirk Talley. And talk about drama, this poor man has is it in spades these days. Kirk was the victim of an extortion attempt after he sent nude pictures of himself to some guy over the internet. Ex-gay Watch has all the ins and outs with links to newspapers, comments, etc.

It has been difficult to watch Kirk go through what he has. He's obviously very conflicted--a man attracted to other men who also works in an industry that rejects homosexual relationships as unnatural and sinful. The tone and transparency of his letters to his fans during the last six months are touching (thanks to the editor over at A Very Fine Line for archiving them).

What would cause someone who works in a conservative fish bowl like the SG music industry to do something risky like connecting with people they don't know over the internet. Is it as some people think, that all gay men are promisicuous, even SG singers?

I assume there are lots of reasons people post nude pictures of themselves on the Web. But if I had to guess why someone who ascribes to conservative Christian views does it, I would probably say it has something to do with unresolved, internalized, and secret shame issues regarding his attraction to men. Now that his extortioner has forcebly outed him, Kirk is left to deal with the unresolved and internalized parts of that equation.

I hope he is getting the help he needs. I noticed in the description of his "Restoration Team" that none of the people are therapists. Ex-gay Watch even noted that the Exodus person who was working with them is no longer involved. Though I don't feel that ex-gay ministries are the only way to go for dealing with issues like Kirk's, I wish someone who was a little longer in the ex-gay tooth was involved in his efforts. Though we may disagree on some things, I found my ex-gay friends less hateful and dismissive than some of my Christian non-same-sex attracted firiends when I came to the conclusion that it was okay to be gay. For example, my best friend from college whose family I'd spent every New Years with for years told me that he would not have John and I in his house for even a short visit because he did not want his kids exposed to people like us.

My point is, I fear that if Kirk "falls" or decides that it is okay for him to be gay (not likely given his career choice) I don't know who will suport him while he is vulnerable. I will certainly be supportive, but given his more conservative interpretation of scriptures I doubt that I would be of much comfort to him. I hope if there are any ex-gay people reading this that they will keep an eye on Kirk for me. If his "Restoration Team" efforts fall short, would you please consider reaching out to him in love? I'll keep you posted on what I hear.


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